Bucks vs Rockets Preview
The 18-7 Milwaukee Bucks take on the 7-18 Houston Rockets Sunday evening in Houston, Texas at the Toyota Center. The Rockets are coming off a brutal loss to the hands of the Spurs. That loss locked them in “solid” as the worst team in the Western Conference. Game time is 6pm CST.
After this Sunday showdown, the Bucks play Golden State on Tuesday in Milwaukee. The game will be nationally televised on TNT. Golden State is coming off a big win at home versus Boston.
Vegas has the Bucks at an 77% chance to win the game against Houston and 9 point favorites. This is the last time these two teams will play each other unless they face off in the NBA Finals. Vegas has the odds of that at around +100,600, or a $10 bet would net a return of a TON of money. (I put it into a betting category and it told me, “Not a valid bet” so…)
Milwaukee is coming off a 106-105 victory over the Dallas Mavericks Friday in Dallas. Giannis scored 28 points to lead the Bucks.
Keys for the Bucks
Make your free throws
Houston is a team that turns the ball over and fouls a ton. Milwaukee has struggled, as a team, from the free throw line (73.4%- 26th in the NBA). They need to hit their shots tonight.
Houston averages an NBA worst 17.8 turnovers a game. The Bucks need to score off those turnovers.
Win the Three Point Battle
Houston could win if they get hot from behind the arc. (Really, in today’s NBA any team can do that.) They take a ton of threes but also miss them. Milwaukee needs to make sure to guard against the three.
The Bucks are 7th in the NBA in made threes a game (13.1). Houston is 13th (12.1) There is an opportunity there for Houston to beat a better team if they can, say, go +5 on threes. Milwaukee needs to shut that down.
The Opponent: The Houston Rockets
The Rockets are a very young, very inexperienced team. Jalen Green, their leading scorer is 20. Jabari Smith is 19. Andrew Segun, their starting center, is also only 20. 80% of their roster is under 23. That’s young. The Rockets are in clear rebuild mode. Star Christian Wood left in the offseason to go to Dallas where he is off to a good start. What is left is a lot of young players trying to negotiate the ways of the NBA. Jabari Smith, Teri Eason, and Jalen Green are all top twenty picks. Only Eason can buy a drink in a Milwaukee bar. And barley: he just turned 21.
+/- is an interesting new “hot stat” in NBA circles. Basically, it is what happens in the net change of the score when a player is on or off the court. Against the Spurs Against the Spurs on Thursday Jabari Smith had a +/- of -20. Eric Gordon, who is back playing again for them at 33 had a +/- of -14. These are all not very good. As a team this season Houston has a team +/- of -6.4.
The aforementioned Andrew Sengun is a good young center. The consensus seems to be that the development of Christian Wood last year in some ways stunted Sengun’s growth. Of course the truth is all of the Rocket players are so young, it feels like they are just taking a more “shotgun approach” to player development. Again, these are really young, raw players.
Things to tell your buddies as you are watching the game
- The Bucks won the NBA championship in 1971 when they defeated the Baltimore Bullets.
- Houston had the worst record in the league last year (20-62). They only got the third pick.
- The Bucks lead the all-time series 74-60.
- Milwaukee plays Tuesday night at home against Golden State. That is certainly a game to keep on the radar as it’ll be a big, fun, high-scoring game. Hopefully the Bucks don;t look past this game tonight.
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